Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday, Dec. 31st . . . making peace with the treadmill

After a .5 mile barefoot warm-up on the treadmill, I put on the Evo and did a 6 mile run at 8:30 pace. It was -8F this morning and while I've run in temperatures that cold before, I don't have much interest in doing it any longer so I made peace with the treadmill and accepted that it will be part of my running routine this winter. I put on a good movie and had a good run.

I had almost no pain in my right foot so it's almost completely healed. The past 4 days has actually been a great reminder for me about how much I love running but also a reminder about the delicate balance required to pretty much run injury free. I've been injury free for over 1 year because I've been disciplined with my feet strengthening and maintaining a good mix of easy and hard running.

However, for the past 3 weeks, I got a bit lazy and didn't continue all my feet exercises and I started to turn my Sunday long run into a tempo run and instead of running a good comfortable pace (7:30 - 8:15), I started running it between 6:15 - 6:45 which was plain stupid. I already have 2 runs per week where I run at paces ranging from 5:30 - 6:30 so it was stupid to add such paces to my long run, not to mention my body, and specifically my feet were not prepared for it.

Since I run close to barefoot (in Evo's), I must be very careful and conservative when I add pace, distance and/or intensity as I can overload the tendons and muscles in my feet (actually this applies to any runner, shod or unshod). Thank god I've spent the time over the past year learning and understanding my body so that I could reduce my pace work for a few days and quickly recovery without having to take an extended break and most importantly, I was able to avoid the dreaded plantar fasciitis injury.

I'll spend the next few weeks running nice and easy to make sure I'm 100% before adding back the heavy pace work.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Say it ain't so . . . treadmill (dreadmill) time . . .

I'm looking at the window at about 6-8 inches of snow and the projected wind chill is -14F tomorrow morning. Now, while I'll do anything to run outside, I won't go that far. I'll be on my nemesis, the treadmill. I'm thinking I'll probably go with the Evo's. Normally for treadmills, I run 100% barefoot but with my recovering right foot, I'll wait until all the pain is gone.


Thursday, Dec. 30th . . . back to the Evo's

Although I still have some slight pain in my right foot, I decided to go back to my Evo's, and it was a smart decision. It would have been a bit easier to run in a more supportive shoe but when I am barefoot or close to barefoot I can feel what's really going on and I run much smoother.

I finished 4.24 miles at a 8:25 pace. I feel considerably better than the day before and I've been spending a lot of the day barefoot. Funny how many doctors tell you to not walk or run barefoot when you have foot pain and I do the exact opposite and it allows me to recovery much more quickly. I remember when I had plantar fasciitis in mid-2009 and I cured it by going 100% barefoot. I'm going to continue to run easy for the next few weeks and I'll start to add back the pace work in a few weeks.

I get to add this to my learning's basket in terms of how I approach my speed/pace work. It's that old adage, "run easy on easy days."


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wednesday, Dec. 29th . . . back on the road again

It was really nice to be back on the road again after 2 days off to allow my left foot to rest. I made the decision to run in the Nike Zoom Streak XC's although I said I'd never run in regular racing shoes again but I decided to play it conservative and give me left foot a bit more protection and support since it is not at 100% (it's at 85%-90% right now). Of course, the soreness is due to my increasing paces, especially my easy run paces which has increased over the past year by about 1:00 per mile.

This morning, I ran for 47 minutes at a nice 7:47 pace. This is still a bit faster than I would otherwise prefer but it's clear that I've reached another level of improvement and it's actually hard for me to run slower. I'm not trying to run faster as I just trying to find a nice easy comfortable pace for my easy run days and that comfortable pace is between 7:30 - 8:00, whereas 12 months ago my comfortable pace was 8:30 - 9:30. I'll chalk it up to improvement and getting stronger over the past 12 months but now

As a result, I'm going to need to modify my training schedule to allow my body to fully adapt to these paces since I'm running in the 7:30 range on easy days, 6:40 on medium effort days and and 5:45 - 6:15 on hard days. I'm not sure what I'll do tomorrow as I will see how my body and left foot feels in the morning.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday, Dec. 28th . . . back at it tomorrow

After 2 days of rest, I'll be back at it tomorrow. With these 2 days of rest, this is only the 2nd time in 14 months where I've run less than 6 times in 7 days. Life is all about learning lessons and I've learned an obvious one which is I can't run hard on too many back to back days as I have been doing over the past 14 days which led to pain in my left foot. I am happy that I've at least smart enough, through bad past experiences, to back off before a small pain turns in to a serious injury.

I'm interested to see how my body responds tomorrow.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday, Dec. 27th - time to back off

So what you learn with practice, consistency and commitment is when to back off and let your body rest. I'm at that point. I'm at my strongest point and I'm running faster than ever but as a result, I'm not being very good in terms of discipline and I've been running pretty hard for a few weeks, even though December is my back off month, so it's time to take 1-2 days off. I've also been quite lazy with my pre-run and post-run exercises and I think it caught up with me. I was so strong that I didn't maintain my stretching and stretching especially in key areas focusing on the plantar muscle, Achilles tendon and IT band. I have no current issues but I can feel very early signs of problems if I don't start back doing my exercises.

It's very hard for me to not run but if I don't back off, then I risk potential injury. I have some pain in my left foot and I know exactly what it is so, unlike I use to do in the past, I'm not going to run through this but instead back off. When you are top shape, taking a day or two off really has no impact and you don't lose any fitness, speed or endurance. Conversely, if you don't back off, you risk a debilitating injury.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday, Dec. 26th - crossroads . . . decision time

This was my planned long run. For my long runs, I run by feel and try to find a comfortable pace where my form and technique feels good and natural but I don't actively try to run slow. However, I had to cut this long run short as I originally planned to run for a 10 mile run but I cut it short at 8.5 miles as I had a slight pain in my right foot.

If I were smart (which I'm not right now), I should have taken today off as my foot was feeling great this morning but it could have used another rest day to fully heal. I would have also been fine if I would have run a lot slower but I found a comfortable 7:30 pace which is a bit faster than I would like to run my long run as I would prefer to run in the 8:15-8:30 range but I'm gaining strength and it's hard to run much slower.

A 7:30 pace is about 1:30 per mile slower than my race pace (5:45 - 6:00) but I'd prefer a 2:00 per mile gap between race pace and my comfortable pace. I've hit a crossroads and this is partly the reason for the slight pain in my right foot. I'm at a point where my speed is increasing and I need to figure out whether I should slow down for easy runs or figure out what adjustments to make that will allow me to run my easy runs in the 7:15 - 7:30 range which is :30 - 1:00 min. per mile faster than my easy runs over the past 2 years. It took several years of maintaining a consistent weekly base of running to get to this point.

I know need to make some big decisions on where I want to go with my running. Due to the amount of racing I do and my training schedule, I'm maintaining more of a competitive running schedule vs. a recreational running schedule. If I'm going to continue down this path, I'm probably going to have to make some adjustments. I'm not sure where to begin so I'll start by looking at my running routine, form and technique and my footwear (yet again). It's one thing to run slower every day but the paces I'm running (at my age) raises a completely different set of issues I need to address.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday, Dec. 24th, easy pace getting faster

A very good recovery run. It's clear that I'm hitting another threshold in my running where I'm getting stronger and faster. This was an easy run for me and 1 yr. ago, my easy runs were in the 8:30 - 9:30 pace range but now my easy runs are sub 8:00 pace. Today's run was 5.68 miles in 44:55, for a 7:58 pace. I've hit a point where the delta between my race pace and easy pace is about 2:00, with my race pace ranging from 5:45 - 6:15 pace and my easy pace ranging from 7:45 - 8:15 pace.

I've had a slight pain in near my right heel for the last few days which is a very early indication of plantar fasciitis if I let it go for months but I know immediately what's wrong. I've been lazy with my pre-run and post-run routines for the past 2-3 weeks and this is the result. So, I'm back to my traditional pre/post run routines which include pre-run towel crunches and golf bal rolls, all targeted toward the plantar muscle, and post-run routines that include calf raises and eccentric calf raises.

The key to injury free running is a very complete and thorough understanding of your body. I know that strong calves are the key to avoiding any achilles or plantar issues and, for me, the only way to maintain strong calves is daily and regular calf stretches and strengthening. This is one of the advantages of having been injured when I started running years ago and today I can point to the causes of most potential injuries.

Notice I said "potential" injury because I'm now able to avoid real injuries by addressing the problem in the very early stages. But, this is the reason why so many runners are injured every year, because 99% of runners' are not dedicated enough to spend the years of consistent running that it takes to listen to and understand your body, but if you do, then you can develop your own specific routine to avoid injuries.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday, Dec. 23rd, 5x800 intervals on trails

I started with a .5 mile barefoot warm-up on the treadmill, then laced up the Evo II's, warmed up for 30 minutes then moved into 5x800 intervals on dirt trails. My pace times for the 800 splits were 6:17, 6:16, 6:02, 6:02, and 6:05. The total workout was 6.93 miles in 53:27.

I'm happy with these times especially considering the dirt trail terrain. The great thing about doing interval and speed work on dirt trails is that you have to work harder on dirt as you have less grip and have to work harder to get your foot off the ground. Additionally, you don't have the safety of the perfect round soft track as now you have to deal with twists, turns and uneven terrain.

When I run good times on dirt, I know I'm ready for hard surfaces. I'd run about :15 seconds per mile faster on roads. These paces were a bit faster than my 5x800 session last Friday so I'm pleased.

I'm looking forward to a nice easy run tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ultra Minimalist vs. Minimalist

I've had some discussions with my minimalist friends and we've been discussing the new trend of shoe companies basically taking their racing shoes and "zero dropping" them and calling them minimalist shoes ("zero drop" is reducing the heel such that the shoe is completely flat and there's deviation from forefoot to mid-foot to heel).

While I think such shoes are a move in the right direction, they are a far cry from true minimalist footwear developed by companies like Terra Plana, Feelmax, Altra, and Vibram (and a few others).

Perhaps we should distinguish between the two groups and for those, like myself, that run in shoes with no heel differential, no arch support, no motion control, and less cushion than any traditional running shoe, perhaps we are "ultra minimalists" and compared to those that run in more traditional racing shoes that are designed with only a few of these elements. There's a big difference, for example, between running in Evo's, KSO's, Osma's or Adam's and Inov-8 F-Lite 195's, Instinct's, New Balance minimus, etc. I personally believe the latter is a far cry from the type of footwear that truly allows the foot to function naturally.


Wednesday, Dec. 22nd, nice easy run . . .

A very enjoyable nice easy run. 6.74 miles in 57:58 over hilly terrain. Average pace the first 30 minutes was 9:10, and 8:03 pace for the last 27 minutes. This is exactly the paces I like to run on easy days. That 8:00 - 8:30 range is a perfect pace for me as it's 2:00 - 2:30 slower than my 5k race pace but it's fast enough to allow me to maintain good form and technique. There's a point where if I run too slow, my stride is choppy and not smooth.

It was a bit chilly (11F) so I had on running jacket on with gloves. The Evo II's are great in cold weather with the additional inside lining.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday, Dec. 21st, a needed day off

I'm glad this is my weekly day off because I need it!!!! I was a bit sore yesterday although I feel good today. I'm sure it's a combination of heavy business travel changing my running schedule and the fact that I tried a new shoe a few days ago being the Alta Adam. Any time you introduce a new shoe, it requires some level of body adjustment. I'll give the Adam another try in 3-5 days as I very slowly introduce new running shoes into my rotation.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday, Dec. 20th, the very easy recovery run

A very easy run on the treadmill. I had to run very early as I had a morning flight for a business meeting. After running in the 6:30 pace range yesterday and since Monday is the last run in my 7 day running cycle, my legs are pretty tired by this time.

I believe in alternating hard and easy days so after yesterday's faster paces, I slowed down significantly so I can log additional miles but also allow my body to recover. It's not uncommon for me to run a 6:00 min. pace one day followed by a 9:00 - 10:00 min. pace the next day.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday, Dec. 19th, my favorite tempo run

A great tempo run in my Evo II's. 7.39 miles at a 6:46 pace, after a 1 mile barefoot warm-up on the treadmill. I was perfectly warmed up after the barefoot warm-up and immediately started into my tempo run (I ran on packed dirt trails).

This is my favorite run in the world, being the hard tempo run. My form and technique was on cue today and my arm placement felt great as I've noticed I breathe easier and better with my arms a bit lower. I rarely run with an iPOD but I did my entire tempo run with my iPOD, tuned into a play list of rap music which was a nice change of pace.

My feet are a bit tired but that's normal since I run barefoot and in true minimalist footwear but that's the beauty of minimalist running as I'll accept tired feet (your feet recover amazingly fast) any day as opposed to plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinitis and runner's knee which occur when I run in traditional running shoes.

It's interesting that I've never been injured running barefoot or in Evo's. It's really too bad that 99% of runners will never have the guts or patience to find out there's truly not only a better way to run but a way to run without being one of the 50% - 70% of runners injured every year. The injury rate is not surprising considering 99% of runners are running in high heels (think about it).



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Altra Adam Review - Dec. 18th, great Saturday run

Altra - The Adam

I was lucky enough to receive a test pair of Altra’s Adam shoe. After walking around in them for a few days, I took them out for a 40 minute test run today (Saturday). Saturday is my easy run day which for me means I try to run 2:00-2:30 minutes per mile slower than my hard day workouts (I alternate between easy and hard days). I ended up running a 7:45 pace for 40 minutes in the Adam’s which I’m actually not that happy about as that’s a fit faster than I prefer as I like to save my legs for my long tempo run tomorrow which should be about 8 miles on hilly terrain, around a 6:30 pace. However, this was an indication of how easy it was to run in the Adam’s.

My primary shoe is the Terra Plana Evo and what I love about the Evo is that it does not do much as it just protects the foot and does not interfere with the natural functioning of the foot. Well, the Adam is on equal ground (literally) with the Evo. The Adam is extremely comfortable and there’s no problem maintaining my natural forefoot/mid-foot landing (I don’t heel strike but I’m pretty sure it would hurt to heel strike in the Adam’s).

For those that love the KSO (like me) the Adam is an improvement on the KSO. Why do I say this? Well, first I’m not a fan of the toe design of the KSO and the Adam provides a traditional toe box but it’s a very wide toe box which allows your toes to spread. This also relates to performance because you can run easier and faster when your toes are engaged and the Adam allows for such engagement (it’s easier to push off at the toes when the toes are not restricted as they are in all traditional running footwear).

The Adam - Design & Performance

The Adam has a nice trail type design and I would compare it to a Vibram in terms of the overall look and feel. The Adam weighs in at about 5 oz., for a men’s size 11.5. It has 2-strap system which is a great design feature as you can adjust the fit at the toe box level as well as the top (as a side note, my wife thinks they look very cool, for what it’s worth, and she wants a pair just based on the look and design).

It was easy to run pretty fast in the Adam as it allows you to run pretty effortlessly. I ran 20 minutes on hard surface (asphalt and concrete) and 20 minutes on hard packed dirt trails and roads, and the Adam performed great on both surfaces. I did a few surges and took my pace down to sub 6:00 pace and they felt great but I backed off as today was an easy day run (those are my paces for tomorrow). However, as for the real tough stuff like mountain terrain with sharp rocks, I don’t think the Adam (nor the KSO or Evo) would provide sufficient protection but the Adam is not marketed as a trail shoe necessarily (on easy/medium trails, the Adam would perform great).

The Adam features a 3 mm rubber bottom, which is similar to the KSO. You are provided with two insole options. One is a flat 3mm insole and the other is a thicker 5mm insole for those that prefer more cushion and slight arch support. I do not like arch support (or any other type of support), so I opted for the 3mm insole.

Of course, one of the key questions many will want to know is “How is the ground feel?” Well, at a high level, it’s very good. To dig deeper, you have to analyze it with and without the insole options. Without the insole, the Adam has a 3mm rubber bottom and feels very much like the Vibram KSO. With the 3mm insole option, the Adam feels like the Evo. With the 5mm insole, there’s no direct comparison but it has slightly less ground feel than the KSO (although I’ve never worn Bikila’s, I suspect it is similar to the Bikila).

The Adam - Fit

The Adam provides a comfortable fit with the 2-strap system. There are no laces as this is a strap design shoe like the Vibram’s (except the Speed’s). The toe box is the widest of any toe box I’ve experienced and Altra should be absolutely applauded for that design feature. Finally, a running shoe that isn’t too narrow, especially for those runners’ with wider feet. Additionally, it allows the entire forefoot and toes to spread and maneuver in their natural manner. I have to admit, the toe box is so wide that it took me a while to adjust but I have regular medium feet.

The wider toe box is an interesting feature for someone like me and I’ll need to log many more miles before I can provide valuable comments on that design feature. I prefer a slightly tighter feel around the foot as I tend to prefer shoes that fit like a durable slipper; hence the reason the Evo is my primary running shoe.

As for the size, I opted for the men’s 11.5 although I wear a size 11 in the Evo and KSO. However, although I rarely run in traditional running shoes anymore, for reference, I wear a size 11.5 in Nike XC’s, Katana’s, Inov-8 F-Lite 195’s, and MWU3’s. However, the 11.5 in the Adam fit just fine.

I’m use to feeling the sides of the toe box area and the Adam gives you plenty of room such that it didn’t feel as snug as the Evo, for example. This will come down to individual preference but the wide toe box is awesome. I probably could wear a size 11 in the Adam but I would stay with the 11.5 because my big toe had just enough room to move around (I’m always fearful of jamming my toes so I opt for more room). Furthermore, I lined up my Evo’s and Adam’s side-by-side and my size 11 Evo’s and 11.5 Adam’s were identical in size, with the only difference being that the Adam feels roomier because of the wide toe box.

The Adam - Summary

First, let me say that I will provide a follow-up review of the Adam after about 50-75 miles as that will give me a much better feel for the Adam. However, at this point, for the most part, I will put the Adam on the same level with the Evo. I will put the Adam ahead of the Vibram KSO because of the wide toe box and the fact that with a traditional toe box, your toes can stay warmer as they generate heat off one another and, additionally, you could even add toe warmers on those exceptionally cold days.

I would absolutely recommend the Adam at this point. Personally, I put the Adam right there with the Evo although I would give a “very” slight advantage to the Evo because of my personal preference of a running shoe that fits a big more snug. I also will admit that from an aesthetic standpoint, I prefer sleek racing shoe designs like the Evo and Mizuno Wave Universe 3, however that’s an individual preference of mine.

I applaud Altra as this is a great running shoe and I’m sure they will only continue to improve on the design. I haven’t tried Altra’s Instinct model which is a more traditional “zero drop” running shoe because it has a bit too much cushion for me (for the Instinct, I would recommend that Altra reduce the cushion by 50-60% so that it is similar to Inov-8’s F-Lite 195 model). Personally I believe “less is more,” so depending on the surface, I want the minimal amount of shoe that will allow me to run on the selected terrain.

Unless something changes as I put more miles on the Adam, I will add the Adam to my rotation (currently, I only run barefoot and in Evo’s). Great job Altra!!!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday, Dec. 17th, getting back on track . . .

After the interruption to my running schedule due to business travel, I'm starting to get back on track.

After a 3 mile warm-up, I moved into 5x800 meter intervals on packed dirt trails. My pace times for the 800 meter splits were 6:36, 6:32, 6:27, 6:20, and 6:16. It was a good hard run and I was happy with the reverse split times. I would give this a 7/8 effort.

I was a little worried after yesterday's run which was much longer than I normally run for an easy run but my legs responded well. I will take it very easy tomorrow with a 30-40 minute very easy run.

I will probably give the Altra Adams's a test run tomorrow.


The Secret to Running

This quote is oh so true. If you want to improve, there's definite sacrifice. I run early mornings and once you body adjusts to that, you will also wake up early on the weekends, hence no sleeping in much on the weekend either. That means I have to go to sleep earlier, hence no late night TV or other stuff. But, in the end, is it worth it? HELL YES.

By the time my colleagues come into work, I've already knocked of 6-10 miles and I've already accomplished something big before the day even begins. It's hard to have a bad day when you start off on such a high.

This is not about instant gratification. You have to work hard for it, sweat for it, give up sleeping in on Sunday mornings.

Lauren Fessenden, Cross Country Athlete

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday, Dec. 16th, run with Runner's World editor

Nice 80 minute run with a Runner's World editor. It was great conversation and a beautiful trail run. It was nice to get back on to it after 2 days off due to business travel. A good solid easy pace 9 mile run in 1:23:01.


Impact of the elevated heel

I can't find any compelling support or reason for the elevated heel in the design of traditional running shoes.

Now that I've fully committed to "true" minimalist footwear, if I even try to walk in cushioned or heel elevated shoes, they feel so weird, almost foreign. I think cushion and heel differentials are quite harmful but, as between the two, I think the elevated heel is the most damaging. In fact, I don't believe it's possible to maintain a "natural" forefoot and/or mid-foot landing with an elevated heel. While it is possible to maintain a forefoot/mid-foot landing in elevated shoes it's "not" natural landing and I don't think it can be as a level of body adjustment is required.

When you have an elevated heel, you must dori-flex the foot a bit more otherwise if the foot is about to land pretty flat (or horizontal to the ground), the heel, even 1-3mm of heel build-up, will interfere with the landing unless you slightly dori-flex the foot a bit more which can be done but it's not the natural body movement as it's a degree of compensation that body is forced to do.

I think this is why I have issues with heel differentials, even minimal heel differentials, as I must adjust and slightly dori-flex a bit more. When you think about how quickly the ball of foot touches down, followed by the heel, we are talking about mm's so 1-2mm is material unless you over dori-flex. This has to have some level of impact on the leg and knee. The degree of impact will vary by individual but there must be an impact.

I continue to narrow down on what type of shoe features are intolerable and heel differentials are a non-starter. The cushion issue is a bit trickier as I see it as a very individual thing as even Evo's and KSO's have cushion albeit minimal but anything more than what is absolutely necessary for the surface I'm running on is the most I will deal with. Except for tough trails, the Evo is the most cushioned shoe I will put on my feet and, if things go well, I'll add the Adam to my rotation.


New Altra Adam's - Initial Impressions

I received a pair of Adam's from Altra to test out. This is just my quick initial impression. I walked a lot in them yesterday and they feel awesome. They actually are more comfortable than the KSO (in my opinion) and I really like the KSO. I haven't run in them yet but I'll do so this Saturday. I would run in them sooner but I don't want to do speed work in a new shoe so Saturday is my next easy run day.

They are incredibly flexible, just like the KSO. They are pretty light (under 6 oz.) and feel good with and without the insole (I'll probably run with the insole). The "zero drop" feature is prefect of course. The minute I took my first step in the Adam, I said to my wife, "yea, they got it right." My wife thinks they look really cool and she wants a pair of the Eve's. They have a very wide toe box which is a great feature and they are significantly wider than the Evo. My toes have plenty of room to maneuver.

It is amazing how different a zero drop feels from any heel elevation, even 2-3mm feels completely different. I'll never run in any shoe that has a heel differential on the bottom sole, not even 1mm.

I'll provide a more detailed review after my first run.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday, Dec.15th, first time in over 1 yr.

I'm ending my business trip that required me to miss 2 consecutive days of running which I haven't done in over 18 months. I never take more than 1 day off per week so this feels weird, but I guess my legs will be fully recovered for my run tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday, Dec. 14th, the off day

No running today as this is my 1 day off each week. I'm convinced this is one of the keys to injury free running as I can feel my body repairing itself on my days off.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday, Dec. 13th, end to a good week

Considering this is my last run in the weekly cycle, my legs felt pretty good. I warmed up very slowly including a 5 minute barefoot warm-up, and ran the last 20 minutes around a 7:15 pace. I was concentrating on my hands, arms, elbows and core. It's funny what you can focus on while running.

I'm traveling on business today which works great since tomorrow (Tuesday) is my day off. I'll have to take Wednesday off also but I'll be back at it on Thursday. I can't remember the last time I took back to back days off but I'm ok with it since December is my back off month anyway. I use December as the month to maintain good weekly bases of running but nothing too difficult as I get ready to start racing again early next year (I have a few races set for Jan.).


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday, Dec. 12th - I smiled the entire time . . .

The weather was pretty nice so I warmed up barefoot for 1 mile, then put on the Evo II's started my run. This run was a mixed hilly tempo run with a combination of paces ranging from easy to 10k paces. This was such a fun run and I'm pretty sure I was smiling the entire way. These are the types of runs where you feel blessed and honored to have the ability to run.

After the warm-up, I ran for 8.74 miles with an average pace of 7:43, which included 4 miles at 6:54 pace. Considering it was a pretty hilly run, I was quite happy with the workout as it was a good medium effort run. I was also pleased because I hurt my groin yesterday playing tennis and it hurt last night and this morning but I decided to run nonetheless and it only hurt a few times while running and it feels pretty good right now.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday, Dec. 11th - a beautiful stroll with the wife

A perfect Saturday morning easy run with my beautiful wife. We don't get to run together nearly enough so this was a joy. It was beautiful outside as we ran mostly on back dirt trails. She is a serious runner and has run many more marathons than me but she sacrifices her running so I can get in more miles for my racing. During the week, we can't leave at the same time with the kids, so she tends to run on the treadmill while I run outside. There's no substitute for running outside, so I know she really enjoyed a good outdoor run.

We also did some walking and talking so it was an all-around perfect morning. Total run on 4.47 miles in 46:46. Tomorrow is my long run but I have decided what level of intensity I will run it as I will just play in by ear and she how I feel. I'd like to throw in a good tempo surge in the middle of the long run, something in the 6:00 pace range.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday, Dec. 10th - 1 mile repeats

After a 5 minute barefoot warm-up on the treadmill, I laced up the Evo II's and headed out for a mile repeat intervals. After a 3 mile warm-up I moved into 1 mile repeats and ran a 5k in 19:37 with my 1 mile pace at 6:47, 6:23, and 6:27 pace. The total run was 7.49 miles in 1:01:58.

It was a comfortably hard pace and everything felt good from my body to my breathing. I didn't completely open up my stride because my body didn't want to so I maintained a slightly shorter stride and higher stride rate and it felt great. I truly believe you must listen to your body and it will tell you how you want to run that day.

I will run short and easy tomorrow to recover for Sunday's long run which will be more of tempo run (in the 8-12 mile range) than a long slow run.


Quote of the Day

Running has taken me in, and continues to comfort, heal and challenge me in all kinds of magical ways. I am not a 'good runner' because I am me. I am a good 'me' because I am a runner.

Kristin Armstrong, Author and runner

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thursday, Dec. 9th, the short easy run

This was an all hills easy recovery run. I'm trying to incorporate hills into the majority of my runs and, in fact, I'm starting to search for hills while I run. Hill running really builds the legs muscles, especially the calves which come in hand when racing, especially on the flatter surfaces. I ran for just over 30 minutes, totaling 3.17 miles. My legs feel pretty fresh which should be useful for tomorrow's hard tempo run.

I've read that tempo runs are the most important training for the Kenyans and it makes complete sense. I've also been told that in order to get the most out of the hard runs, you must have discipline to run easy on the easy days and even feel like you held back a bit, and that's how I feel right now. I'm curious to see how my body responds tomorrow. I usually run for 45 minutes to 1 hr. on my easy days so this felt like nothing but my legs feel pretty fresh.

My thought is that it may be better to add 1-2 miles on the end of my hard runs and cut back on my easy run days, so I will maintain the same weekly base but there will be a big delta between my hard and easy days as my easy days will be easier and my hard days will be harder.

Today I ran in the 9 minute pace range, and tomorrow I'll be back in the 6:00 and sub 6:00 minute pace range so I'm curious to see how my body reacts to such a difference in paces day to day.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Balance & Vertical Impact: Role of Shoe Sole Materials

If you think cushion under the foot is good and/or if you wonder if cushion is related to running injuries, check out the article posted by my friend Luis:

It's actually quite logical if you think about it. Traditional running shoes create an unstable landing and base that causes increased impact through reduced flexion at the hip and knee so as to briefly achieve improved stability by compressing the interface materials of the shoe sole, and the force to create the compression increased the impact.


Wednesday, Dec. 8th, my favorite tempo run

I started with a 5 minute barefoot warm up on concrete then laced up the Evo II's and hit the trails for a good hard tempo run. The progressive tempo run is my favorite run. In fact, it is one of the runs that the Kenyans do religiously, many times twice per week. Here's a good article at it:,7120,s6-238-267--11909-2-1-2,00.html

After a 30 minute warm-up, I moved into a progressive tempo of 3 miles of running at 6:38 pace. I was running at about a 7/8 effort level on a scale of 1-10. It was a nice comfortably hard run. The complete run, including warm-up, was 6.22 miles in 52:41. My form felt really good and I felt great.

On slate for tomorrow (Thursday) is a nice easy recovery run then I'll throw in another tempo run for Friday.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday, Dec. 7th - my day off

Enough said.

I'll be back to work tomorrow with a good tempo run, alternating 5k and 10k paces.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday, Dec. 6th - Last Run of the Week

My legs were a bit tired but that's to be expected since it's the last run of my weekly run routine, and it follows my long run. However, my stride felt good as did my breathing. I did a lot of big hills and finished 5.41 miles in 49:02.

I can definitely feel the fatigue in my quads but that's normal after some hilly runs. I've been adding more than more hills to all my runs and it really pays off when you move to a flatter surface. It also strengthens the quads and calves.

While I'm feeling fine I will be taking tomorrow off. Regardless of how good I feel, I take one day completely off during each 7 day running cycle. I figure if Sammy Wanjiru takes one day off, there must be something to it.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday, Dec. 5th, I believe in karma . . .

I guess I do believe in karma because my running form and technique is really coming together even more since I decided to never run in traditional running shoes anymore. It solidified that my body has completely adjusted to barefoot/minimalist running and any other type of running will require a long and tenuous adaption for which I was no interest.

This is my long run of the week. This run was all hills for 10 miles. I completed 10.73 miles in 1:31:27, averaging a 8:37 pace, however, I finished the final 1.5 miles at a 6:45 pace.

Since my decision to run solely barefoot/minimalist, it's as if my body was waiting for me to let go of the traditional shoes and I noticed a few new tweaks in my form that felt unbelievable.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday, Dec. 4th, good recovery run

It was just a solid good comfortable run. It can be no more clearer that my body, after 2+ years, has fully adapted to barefoot/minimalist running and anything else I try to put on my feet requires adapation that I'm not willing to deal with.

I ran 5.57 miles in 46:45, a 8:29 pace. It was a nice recovery type run after yesterday's hard tempo hilly run. Tomorrow I have a nice and comfrotable 10 mile hilly run scheduled. My legs feel good. They are a little tired but that good type of tired.


Friday, December 3, 2010

I've accepted the inevitable . . .

As I've been saying over the past few days, I think the shod vs. unshod analysis starts with balance and joint alignment. I've accepted, after numerous trials, that my body has fully adapted to barefoot and minimalist (true minimalist) running and while I can/could run in cushioned shoes (i.e., minimal racing flat type shoes) it would require me to go through another adaption period to learn how to run with more cushion under my feet and I have no interest in going through another adaption period.

After spending 2 yrs. since I starting barefoot running, I've been adapting or, as I prefer to call it, returning my body to its natural state and relying on my body for performance as opposed to gear/ gadgets. My body has been always talking to me but I've always tried to return to racing shoes, or at least add racing shoes to my
rotation, and I've been able to do so and do so without injury or pain for limited periods of time. I can rotate racing shoes just fine but if I run in racing shoes on too many consecutive days, then tension arises in parts of my body, starting with me knees. I always stop at that point so it's never turned into a serious injury but it would if I continued.

This morning, I had a hard 1 hr. all hill run at 5k "effort" pace. It was very warm this morning in Denver (41F at 6:30 am) so I warmed up barefoot on the asphalt and "loved it." Normally, it's too cold and I warm up on the treadmill barefoot. Then, I laced up the Evo's and hit the hills for 55 minutes at a 6:25 pace and it was absolutely "effortless." The ability to control my body, my stride length, my stride rate, etc. is uncanny while barefoot, in Evo's or KSO's. But, even with racing shoes like Nike Zoom Streak XC's, Katana's, or F-Lite 195's, I can immediately feel the difference and my body does adjust but the problem now is I hate the adjustment because my body has fully adapted to barefoot/minimalist running and in fact, expects a certain level of ground and sensory feel.

The cool thing is I can honestly say I tried the standard shoe thing,
over and over, and gave it a fair try even as I continued to improve
my form. What I like is that it's not that I can't run in shoes, it's
that it feels weird and would require me to learn how to run in shoes
and I have no interest in going back to that world. I can't come up
with one reason to return to that world when all my PR's times are in
Evo's so I can't even say I run faster in racing shoes when it's the
opposite as I run faster in Evo's. And, more importantly, I run
injury free while running barefoot/minimalist.

I never thought I'd reach the point where it's weird to even run in the lightest and most minimalist racing shoes available. I attribute most of it to the cushion but obviously the heel differential probably has some impact but I think the biggest impact to me at least, is the cushion, especially soft cushion where the foot sinks into the cushion which obviously makes it more difficult to balance thus impacting joint alignment.

So I'll remember this day as the day I had to finally draw the line in the sand and call "true" minimalist shoes as the most I can deal with on my feet down to barefoot (anything above the true minimalist threshold is a "no go"). I still need something for more difficult trails but instead of relying on shoes, I've decided to commit to learning how to run on more difficult trails in minimalist shoes. At one time, I couldn't run on the packed trails barefoot and I do it without problems today but it took over 1 yr. so it will take time but the end result is worth it.


Friday, Dec. 4th, it's all about the hills

I started with a 5 min. barefoot warm-up, then laced up the Evo's and hit the road for a 1 hr. "all hills" run which included a progressive warm-up, then 10 min. at 5k pace into 5 min. relaxed, into 6 sets of 1 min. very hard, 2 min. comfortable, then a 5 min. warm-down.

I averaged about a 6:25 pace and it was an effortless run (for the 1 min. surges I ran progressively faster from a 6:18 pace down to 5:57 pace, depending on the elevation of hill).

I've decided I can't run in regular running shoes, even racing shoes, anymore. My body has fully adapted to barefoot and true minimalist running and I can't go back to the old world as it would require me to go through an entire adapation phase to learn how to run in cushioned/heel elevated shoes and I have absolutely no interest in doing that. It took my about 2 years to get to this point, so it was a 18 month or so period of adapation, or as I prefer to call it, a return to my natural body state when I rely on my body for performance and speed and not shoes. No shoe can match the performance ability of the body/barefeet.

At the end of the day, it's about balance and joint alignment and cushion/heel elevation throws off my balance and joint alignment and I have no interest in leaning how to run off-balance.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday, Dec. 2nd - Easy Short Run

After some dynamic stretching, I did 5 min. barefoot warm-up on the treadmill, then laced up the Evo I's and and headed out the door for a "run by feel," meaning I ran without a watch and let my body tell me what a "easy" pace feels like without regard to actual pace. I picked a route I run often so I know the approximate distance and checked the clock in the house before leaving and I estimated at the end of the run that I finished close to 4 miles at a 8:33 pace.

Everything felt right and I just ran relaxed and the stride felt great, just relaxed and easy. I went back to the form that I felt I had when I set my 5k PR last month. I'm getting back to letting body feel determine my stride length and stride rate as opposed to forcing it. A 8:30 pace for an easy run is exactly where I'd like my easy runs to fall (8:00 - 8:30 is a great easy run pace).


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dec. 1st, tempo trail run

I had a nice hard trial tempo run this morning. I started with a 15 min. warm-up barefoot on the treadmill, then laced up the Evo's and headed for the trails. After a 20 min. warm-up, I moved into 3x1 mile intervals (first and last at 5k pace, middle at 10k pace) with 2 min. recovery in-between each.

I completed the 1st mile @ 6:05 pace, 2nd mile @ 6:31 pace, and 3rd mile @ 6:22 pace. I had a slightly quicker/shorter cadence than I would like during the first mile but the 2nd mile was nice & smooth, and for 3rd mile, the first 800 meters was smooth but struggled the 2nd 800 meters.

This was a stride issue battle with myself but as I warmed down at a 8:15 pace, my natural slightly longer stride started to take over and it felt very smooth and easy and reminded me of my form during my 5k PR race last month.

This is directly related to the balance, joint alignment and cushioned shoe issues. My stride is slightly different in racing shoes as compared to the Evo's as compared to barefoot. I have a smoother stride in the Evo's or barefoot and I believe it is related to balance. While we are probably talking about small degrees of difference, it must have a material impact on me.

As I mentioned, we are optimally balanced when barefoot so as we add more under the foot, especially EVA cushion and heel differentials, our balance is thrown a bit off and we have to further engage muscles and adapt to maintain good balance. This is no issue for some but it appears to be a major issue for me as it must slightly alter my joint alignment from the ankle up to the knee and that causes other issues for me.


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